February 17th, 2012
10:21 AM ET
WHITE HOUSE (CNN) – Welcome to the culture wars 2.0, where the front lines now are religious freedom and contraceptives. Abortion? Gay marriage? Those are so last year.
The White House seems to have assuaged the concerns of liberal and moderate religious voices, particularly Catholics, who complained that the U.S. Health and Human Services mandate on contraceptive coverage violated religious freedom of conscience. The policy now includes a wide exemption for religious groups; requires insurance companies, instead of religious employers, to foot the bill; and still includes a year to hammer out the details.
But now, the issue is firmly entrenched in a political battle on Capitol Hill. Republicans are seizing on the issue as an opportunity to push back on the Affordable Care Act, which they gleefully call "Obamacare." Democrats, meanwhile, are punching back, saying that rolling back the mandate is a slap in the face to women and that this is exclusively a women's health issue.
Political shots were fired from both sides at a Thursday hearing convened by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The hearing, titled "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?" featured conservative religious voices from across the spectrum, most of whom were male.
"Today's hearing is a solemn one. It involves freedom of conscience," Issa said at the beginning of the hearing.
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CNN Producer Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.